Tips for Indian Students to Deal With Competition for Graduate Programs in the US


Subhashri Roy
Updated on Jun 26, 2023 07:13 PM IST

It might be difficult to compete for admission to US universities. Early preparation, identifying unique abilities, finding mentorship, displaying enthusiasm via extracurricular activities, and developing a captivating personal statement are some recommendations for navigating this competitive place.

Tips for Indian Students to Deal With Competition for Graduate Programs in the US

Tips to Deal With Competition for Admission in USA Universities: Admission to prominent institutions in the United States can be a difficult endeavour in today's highly competitive academic scene. With thousands of excellent candidates contending for limited slots, ambitious students need to arm themselves with effective tactics for standing out. 

This article discusses helpful tips for navigating the competition and increasing your chances of admission to US universities. These tips will provide valuable insights and practical advice to help you navigate the competitive admissions process, from early preparation and careful selection of target institutions to showcasing unique strengths, seeking mentorship, and making a compelling case through extracurricular activities and personal statements. 

By implementing these tips to deal with competition for admission in USA universities, you can enhance your chances of pursuing your higher education at your dream university and pursuing your academic and career aspirations.

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Tips for Indians to Deal with Competition in the US for Graduate Programs

Given below are the tips for Indian students who are planning on pursuing a Master's degree in the US in the current academic year:

Shortlist More Universities and Apply to Universities Not on Your List

One of the major ways to fulfil your study abroad dreams despite competitive upcoming intakes in the US is to shortlist more universities. Also, keeping in mind the current situation shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is significant that you handpick universities that are Covid-safe and have been responding to the pandemic and the international students in a satisfactory manner.

Know Your University

With more and more universities going digital and even conducting admissions online, one of the best methods to get ahead is by networking with university officials on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. When universities go through applications, those with greater outreach or those who have made an effort in reaching out will always stand out.

Get Someone to Write a Good Letter Of Recommendation (LOR)

The Letter Of Recommendation (LOR), never to be mixed with a resume, should be crisp, short and to the point in order to have a lasting impact on the admissions committee of a university. It is a great tool to showcase your strengths and stand out from the crowd. short, crisp and to the point to have the best impact. An ideal LOR would be one that is written by someone who knows you well and has not been forced to write it. For that, you must make sure that you have a prior meeting with the concerned person to mention the need for a LOR for admission to a foreign university.

Write a Strong Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Your application to almost any US university would require you to submit an SOP. A well-written personal statement is attached with great importance, that often works as a decisive factor in admission or denial. While many may think that an SOP is a narrative of your accomplishments, it is rather a piece that should be able to prove that you are ideal for the programme you have applied for and that it will certainly help you achieve your goals and ambitions. Also, remember that every university might want you to add different pointers to your SOP. You must hence go through each university's guidelines (if any) before submitting the same.

Attempt Standardised Tests

With exam conducting authorities having closed a number of testing centres in different areas/locations across the world, applicants have not been able to take standardized tests at test centres. However, tests such as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are being conducted in online mode, wherein students can take these tests from the comfort of their homes.It is due to this that many universities in the US have made submission of GMAT/GRE scores optional or removed it completely from the selection process for the current academic year. Having said that, taking and submitting the scores of standardized tests can help put you on the map and get into top schools.

Apply Early

Now, many ignore this thinking that it would not make much of a difference. Although it might vary from university to university, many US universities do prefer international students applying way before the application deadline. Needless to say that you might also be eligible for early application scholarships or financial aid offered by the university.

Learn New Technical Skills

Universities, today, are more focused on admitting students who not only have work experience in a related field but have skills that make them more employable. Industries have gone digital and employees are working from home, requiring them to be proficient in a number of digital/technical skills.

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Reasons Why US Admissions Would BecomeMore Competitive

Over and above, there are a good three reasons why Indian students applying for graduate programs in the US would face more competition in the future. Let us find out what they are:

  • The End of the Trump Era: Trump's rule was marked by rigid immigration rules leading to fewer international students studying in the US and those already in the US more fearful about their stay in the country. With the win of Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the US Presidential Elections 2020, it is hoped that the US would attract more overseas students, with a large chunk from India. The Biden administration has promised to revoke all the immigration policies implemented by Trump and welcome more than 500,000 Indians over the next few years.

  • Better Covid-19 Management at US Universities: From complying with the public health guidelines to offering mental health support, US universities have left no stone unturned to ensure that all students are taken care of during these unprecedented times whilst not compromising the standard of education. Most universities in the US are delivering classes in online mode or hybrid mode which is a mix of both online and on-campus learning. A lot of universities are also offering hardship funds to students who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

  • Growing Need for STEM Graduates: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a rapidly growing need for STEM training to result in innovation and job creation in the States. International students applying for STEM graduate programmes can also find scholarship schemes or new specialised grants programs introduced in the midst of the pandemic.

Popular US Universities for International Student Admissions

Here is the list of top universities in the US that are offering admissions to international applicants along with the top courses on offer and their tuition fee range:

Name of the University

Scholarship Availability

Courses Offered


Tuition Fee Range (in INR)

University of Illinois, Chicago


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

No List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 35-66L

Auburn University


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Dayton, Ohio


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Kansas


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


University of Utah


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Harvard University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 29-52L

University of Massachusetts, Boston


List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring


Suffolk University, Boston


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


George Mason University


List of Courses Offered

Fall and Spring


Texas A&M Corpus University


List of Courses Offered

Fall, Spring and Summer


Hofstra University


List of Courses Offered

Fall and Spring


Stanford University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 25-94L

New Jersey Institute Of Technology

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 19-22L

Webster University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall and Spring 11-12L

DePaul University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 12-35L

Cleveland State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 13-14L

University of South Florida

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 11-13L

Arizona State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 15-41L

Washington State University

Yes List of Courses Offered Fall, Spring and Summer 11-16L

To summarise, navigating the competitive admissions process for US universities needs careful planning, determination, and a smart approach. You may boost your chances of distinguishing out and earning a coveted position at your preferred US university by applying the tips suggested in this article, such as early preparation, highlighting unique skills, seeking help, and drafting engaging application materials. Remember that with hard work and the correct techniques, you can beat the competition and begin on an exciting academic path in the United States.

In case you have questions related to admissions abroad, please reach out to us at

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How can I stand out in the highly competitive admission process for US universities?

Focus on presenting your unique skills and accomplishments to stand out in the very competitive admissions process for US universities. Create a captivating personal statement that highlights your interests, aspirations, and experiences. To exhibit your well-roundedness, participate in relevant extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership responsibilities. Seek out difficult academic chances and good letters of recommendation. Consider displaying your skills through portfolios, research projects, or artistic endeavours. Differentiate yourself by providing a well-rounded and honest profile that connects with the values and mission of the university. 

What are some effective strategies to increase my chances of getting admitted to a US university?

Focus on early preparation, including tough coursework and standardised test preparation, to improve your chances of admission to a US university. Display your distinct skills, such as leadership, community participation, and accomplishments. Seek the advice of mentors or college counsellors. Create an engaging personal statement and complete your application by participating in important extracurricular activities. Finally, study and select universities that match your academic and personal objectives.

How can I research and select the right US universities that match my academic and personal goals?

You can begin by determining your academic and personal goals before researching and selecting the best US universities. Think about programme offers, location, campus size, fee structure, and student support/placement services. Make use of online resources such as university websites, rankings, and student reviews. Attend college fairs and informative/interactive sessions, and get advice from current students or alumni. Consider visiting campuses or conducting virtual tours to get a feel for the setup. Before making a final selection, make a list of colleges that match your goals.

Is it important to start preparing early for the US university admission process?

Yes, it is of the utmost importance to begin preparing for the US university admissions process as soon as possible. Early preparation helps you to research universities, learn about entrance or eligibility requirements, organise your coursework, and concentrate on increasing your standardised test results. It also allows you plenty of opportunities to participate in significant extracurricular activities, pursue leadership roles, and build good connections with professors to obtain reference letters. Early planning improves your chances of producing a strong, competitive application.

Are extracurricular activities and community involvement important for US university admissions?

Yes, extracurricular activities and community participation are significant for university admissions in the USA. They reflect your hobbies, interests, leadership skills, and capacity to contribute to the university community. Admissions committees look for individuals who have shown dedication, effort, and a well-rounded profile. Participating in relevant extracurricular activities and community service may dramatically improve your application and help you stand out from the crowd.

Should I seek guidance from mentors or college counsellors during the application process?

Yes, receiving advice from mentors or study abroad counsellors throughout the application process is highly advised as they are all well versed with the minute changes and details that we tend to miss out on. They may provide important insights, assist you in the application process, advise you on university/programme selection, and help you construct a successful application. Their knowledge and experience may help you make an informed decision and improve your chances of a successful application. Hence, connect with study abroad counsellors now at CollegDekho at 

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